I’m sure that everyone has had that moment in life when they have worked hard all day long, only for it all to go wrong at the last minute. You’ve broken your back all day, doing everything that you are supposed to do, and then disaster, and you are back to square one. Now put this scenario far into the future, where robots are doing all the hard work, and rarely make mistakes. That is, until Robot Z3-L1’s ship develops a fault, and he comes crashing down onto an inhospitable, alien planet called Dimidium. During the crash all the contents of his ship are strewn across this alien landscape, and yep, you’ve guessed correctly. It’s now your job to collect them all, repair your ship, and finish your mission that you had so nearly completed.
Two Parsecs From Earth has been developed by ABX Games Studio and published by Ratalaika Games. This 2D Metrodvania style platform adventure has you controlling the robot protagonist as he aims to collect all his precious cargo and complete his task. Sounds pretty straightforward right? Matters are complicated as our delivery hero has been damaged in the accident. You must now relearn how to jump, followed by several special abilities that will enable you to access otherwise locked paths. Each playthrough allows you to unlock 3 unique abilities, and each allows you access to different set paths. Depending on which you choose, it will allow you to experience your adventure in 8 different ways. I absolutely loved this game mechanic. Every piece of cargo that you searched for could be gathered no matter which ability you chose, but the way you gathered them altered.
The abilities allow you to; double jump, dash, pass through floors or walls, shrink down, and finally teleport. You are free to select whichever one you wish once you’ve arrived at the ability area. Whatever one you select will automatically disable the other option for the game, making that pathway permanently blocked. I found that this can lead to frustration and confusion as you search around the map desperately trying to get to your precious cargo. But it was really rewarding when you eventually worked out the route and collected your loot. So impassable paths, is there anything else that makes this game tough? Unfortunately, the developers decided that this wasn’t hard enough, and made it so that any touch from an enemy or spike trap meant that you had to restart at the beginning of that section. This can be brutally unforgiving and made me despair frequently. I had worked my way around the obstacles and enemies, only to find that I didn’t have the correct ability to make it back. All my hard work had been undone, and I lost all my crates. I had to remember that just because I had the skill to progress one way, it didn’t mean I had the ability to return. It was a painful lesson, and one that you simply have to accept if you play this title.
This is a great example of a simple concept done very well. Like all Metroidvania style games, you are sucked in with the simplicity of the idea, and the controls, only to be spat out with the brutal twists and turns that you will encounter. In Two Parsecs from Earth this has to be the lack of lives and the not knowing if you have the correct abilities to be pass an area. Extreme parkour has nothing on this game and no matter how good you are at these titles, if you haven’t unlocked the right skills, you are guaranteed to fail. ABX Games Studio has created a fun and highly replayable title with its multiple path approach, which surrounds the game premise, and aim. Once you collect enough cargo to be going on with, and repaired the ship so you can take off, you are then offered the opportunity to play it all again in a New Game+ mode. This doesn’t alter the course of how things need to be played out, but it adds additional elements that help to keep the game play fresh.
The world that you explore is a colourful and bright place that uses cartoon art as its main style. The land that you explore has been separated into several small areas, each with their own name. You are free to go wherever you have access, and will need to use the not so detailed map to help you navigate your way around. I found that even though the map was useful, I got easily lost as each area blended into one. The confusion factor never outweighed the fun that I was having, but it would have been much more enjoyable if the developers made the mini-map much more detailed. The character models are well designed, and each of the enemies you encounter are easy to identify. What wasn’t so easy to see was the spike traps that you had to avoid. Falling into these, or jumping head first was unfortunately inevitable, I wish they were a much more vivid colour, as it would have made avoiding them considerably easier. The game runs well on the vanilla Xbox, and I had no issues with graphical glitches. It’s a lovely game to look at, and the alien landscape is a bright and eerie place to visit.
As with most indie titles, there is a limitation to how far they push their audio element of their game. The core sound is what I would expect to see in a space platform game and didn’t blow me away. But what I enjoyed was the unique sounds that were attached to each of the special abilities that had been chosen. This added to the unique nature of each skill you had selected.
Most platform titles are about simple controls, and difficult gameplay, and this one is no different. You are introduced to each control element by our witty robot, as he jokes and uses his dry wit to explain the situation. Understanding the control setup wasn’t difficult, mastering it was! You must perfect your timing when jumping chasms, otherwise you will fall to your death, or be impaled on the many spikes that you will come across. This is all about reactions, dexterity, and muscle memory, so get practicing as you will need all in order to succeed.
I’ve already highlighted the finer points of why this has plenty of replay value. It’s unusual when an indie title offers many reasons to go back, but it’s even stranger when they all follow the exact aim and locations. But, in this game, it works perfectly. With a thorough achievement list that requires 100% completion, and the NG+ mode, you will have plenty to sink your teeth into.
A Metrodvania style platform game that can be frustrating and tough to play but for all those moments it’s rewarding, and will keep you coming back. Do I recommend this clever, simple title? Absolutely. A fun and interesting game that deserves your attention. Don’t let a little accident stop you from delivering your parcels, repair your ship, and get on with it.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Two Parsecs From Earth Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 8/10
User Review( votes)
Life is harsh, especially when you are so close to finishing your last job of the day. A crash landing, and an alien planet won’t stop this delivery.
- Bright cartoon style graphics.
- Simple controls that are tough to master.
- Plenty of abilities to choose from.
- Clever gameplay mechanics.
- The map can be confusing to navigate.
- The spikes can be tough to see.